The day America died. For me.
Each generation, it seems, has a particular day they remember when the wheels came off the cart and they realized things are different than they thought they were. So singular are these events that the date itself, the event, or even an image becomes a shared memory for that cohort.
It involves a sense of disillusionment and evokes an emotional response, even several competing emotions, at a time : anger, sadness, confusion, fear.
We all experience this. On an individual level it might be when we learn that our parents are not the perfectly infallible beings we thought they were, but instead, people like us- flawed, emotional, and not omniscient.
On a societal level, it is when we see the cracks in the facade of what was previously assumed to be unyielding, clearly defined, and reliable: when the institutions and individuals we have invested with our trust and granted authority and power prove to be unworthy of this investiture.
What sparked my reflection on this matter is the buzz currently surrounding the indictment and arrest of former president Donald Trump. Although the Soros (✡) sponsored prosecutor in New York is now running into headwinds, the anticipated arrest and the sense of disillusionment this has sparked is noteworthy.
Many talking heads on the right, and even a couple on the left, have stated that if such an arrest were to occur, it would be the end of the “democracy” and the final transition of our republican government from a Jeffersonian democracy to a Banana Republic.
I’m sure for many this is true. For many, such an event would be the moment when they realize that all was not as they thought it was: Suddenly, their eyes open and they see the system is rigged, unjust, and managed for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many. It will be the day America died for them.
In my opinion, they are late to the dance. For me, America died on July 5, 2016.
July 5, 2016 was the end of a very interesting week. It started on June 27, 2016 when former president Bill “what blue dress?” Clinton clandestinely met with then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch in an “unscheduled” meeting at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport.
Without getting too deep in the weeds, it should be remembered that at that time the so-called Justice Department, led by Lynch, was investigating Hillary “what does it matter” Clinton for the mishandling of classified information found on private servers. She was also running for President. Soon Billary herself would testify (behind closed doors) to the FBI. A decision on whether or not to recommend criminal charges was due any day. Such a recommendation would destroy any chance she had in the election.
On July 5, 2016, James Comey marched in front of the press corp to announce the FBI’s findings and recommendations. I was sitting at my desk watching it live-streaming. I remember, as he worked his way through his presentation, having a growing sense of elation because, as he detailed the overt crimes and mishandling of classified documents, there was simply no way Hillary was going to escape criminal charges. Finally, a Clinton would face justice.
Some quotes from the press briefing (found here):
▻ “…there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”
▻ “…we also found information that was properly classified as Secret by the U.S. Intelligence Community at the time it was discussed on e-mail…”
▻ “We do assess that hostile actors gained access to the private commercial accounts of people with whom Secretary Clinton was in regular contact from her personal account…we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal email account.”
You can see why I was getting excited. Finally, in my life-time, a person of power and privilege was going to get what was coming to them. A true demonstration of “equal under law.”
Then the floor fell out from under me:
“Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case…
“To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now.James Comey
As a result, although the Department of Justice makes final decisions on matters like this, we are expressing to Justice our view that no charges are appropriate in this case.“
I sat, stunned. At that very moment America died for me. Here was clear, irrefutable evidence of wrong-doing. He even had the balls to say, essentially, if it were anyone else, we would bring charges (“ this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences…”).
But a quick meeting on the tarmac… Hillary gets a pass. Good or bad, I naively thought America was at least, at its core, fair. I watched in horror as I was shown otherwise. In an instant, I saw America divided into two: the powerful, and the rest of us. And each is subject to completely different codes of conduct, laws, and consequences.
It was not long thereafter I joined the American Nazi Party. There I found clear statements of the very principals I believe in and on which America was founded. And they are honest.
If Trump is arrested, for many people it will be their moment of awakening. I understand that. Maybe they, like me, will look beyond a system that allows such things to happen and realize that there are other alternatives.
Note: Christopher Sign was the reporter who broke the story of the Clinton-Lynch meeting (it was something the Clinton’s hoped no one would notice). He also wrote a book on the subject (Secret on the tarmac). He was found dead on June 12, 2021.